Monthly Archives: October 2011

Moms, You’re Doing Something That Lasts!

Andrew Peterson talks about the lasting labor of his wife as she pours the love of Christ into raising their children.  One of my wife’s favorite songs.

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Fear: Another Way to Detect Your Idols

As I’ve said before, one of my goals in writing this blog is to help Christians evaluate their hearts so that they can identify the things, people, and experiences they often love and serve in the place of God.  In short, I want to help you see the idols of your heart.  But my desire does not stop there.  The only way that identifying your idols will do you any good is if you tear them off of the throne of your heart and replace them with Christ, the rightful King, so you can give him the honor he deserves.  Before we get there, however, we’ve got to start with idol detecting.

I’ve said in the past that we can know what our idols are when we discover what we desire and enjoy more than God in any given moment.  If we desire something more than God, then we will sin to get it or sin if we don’t get it.  This is what James reveals in chapter four of his letter when he writes, “What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you (v. 1 a)?  You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel (v. 2 b).”

But desire is only one side of the coin when it comes to identifying idols.  At times it may be difficult for you to pinpoint exactly what you desire more than God.  Perhaps you do not see yourself as someone who chases after pleasure and seeks to indulge every impulsive desire in your heart.  Therefore, asking yourself the question of ultimate desire isn’t as helpful for you as it is with others.  So, is there some other question to ask yourself that will help you see the things you put in place of God?  I think the other side of the coin is to ask yourself what you fear most.  It’s kind of a roundabout way of discovering the things that you often treat as most important.  If what a woman fears most is rejection from a certain group of people, then she probably sees approval, acceptance, and recognition as most important.  If what a man fears most is being stuck in a job that only pays $40k a year for the rest of his life, then he probably sees comfort and convenience as most important.  The question of fear is really just another way of asking what we want, and what we want gives us a good idea of the things we often serve in the place of God.

The discovery of an idol in our hearts reveals a gaping spiritual wound that we cannot expect to heal on its own.  Fortunately, you can be confident that there is a balm for that wound found only in Christ and the promises that God gives us in him.  More on that in the future.

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Hymns: The Verses We’re Missing Out On

My wife, Keri, and I were discussing the poetic beauty and theological richness of the old hymns the other day when she brought up the point that some of the best verses of these hymns are the ones we rarely, if ever, sing.  The third, fourth, fifth, and even sixth verses are ones we are often unfamiliar with, but can also be some of the most biblically-soaked verses in the song.  After searching out some of these neglected verses, I can say that it’s usually not for lack of beauty and truth that we don’t include them, but rather, because we’re probably too impatient a culture to sing through the entire song.  Here are  a few misfit verses from some of our most popular hymns.  If you want to check out more, The Cyber Hymnal is still one of the best places to get hymns online….  even if it does look like they haven’t updated the site since 1998.

 

Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing by Robert Robinson (1758)

Verse 5

O that day when freed from sinning,
I shall see Thy lovely face;
Clothèd then in blood washed linen
How I’ll sing Thy sovereign grace;
Come, my Lord, no longer tarry,
Take my ransomed soul away;
Send thine angels now to carry
Me to realms of endless day.

There is a Fountain Filled With Blood by William Cowper (1772)

Verse 5

Then in a nobler, sweeter song, I’ll sing Thy power to save,
When this poor lisping, stammering tongue lies silent in the grave.
Lies silent in the grave, lies silent in the grave;
When this poor lisping, stammering tongue lies silent in the grave.

And Can It Be That I Should Gain? by Charles Wesley (1738)

Verse 4

Long my imprisoned spirit lay,
Fast bound in sin and nature’s night;
Thine eye diffused a quickening ray—
I woke, the dungeon flamed with light;
My chains fell off, my heart was free,
I rose, went forth, and followed Thee.
My chains fell off, my heart was free,
I rose, went forth, and followed Thee.

Rock of Ages by Augustus M. Toplady (1776)

Verse 3

Nothing in my hand I bring,
Simply to the cross I cling;
Naked, come to Thee for dress;
Helpless look to Thee for grace;
Foul, I to the fountain fly;
Wash me, Savior, or I die.

O Worship the King by Robert Grant (1833)

Verse 6

O measureless might! Ineffable love!
While angels delight to worship Thee above,
The humbler creation, though feeble their lays,
With true adoration shall all sing Thy praise.

Immortal, Invisible, God Only Wise by Walter C. Smith (1876)

Verse 5

All laud we would render; O help us to see
’Tis only the splendor of light hideth Thee,
And so let Thy glory, almighty, impart,
Through Christ in His story, Thy Christ to the heart.

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If Christians Won’t Do it, Who Will?

Christians are doers.  In the book of James we are told to be hearers and doers (1:22).  In Matthew’s Gospel, Jesus says it those who hear his words and do them who will be like the wise man who built his house on the rock (7: 24).  In Luke’s Gospel, Jesus says it is those who “hear the word of God and do it” who are his true family (8:21).  We are doers because of what Jesus did for us.  He paid for our sins with his life, not only to forgive us but to make us into doers for his glory (2 Corinthians 5:15).

As doers for Jesus, we are called to do many things for him.  We are called to encourage others, give to those in need, show hospitality, pursue peace with all people, love our enemies, submit to the governing authorities, and be good stewards of the resources we’ve been given.  Those are all good things that we must do in order to obey the Lord Jesus in this life, but consider this quote by Greg Gilbert from his book, What is the Gospel?

There are many good things that we can do as Christians, but the fact is that most of those good things will happily be done also by people who are not Christians.  But if we Christians fail to proclaim the gospel of Jesus, who else is going to do that?  No one (p. 120).

Lots of unbelievers give to the needy, obey the laws of the land, and open up their homes to others, but they don’t share the soul-saving good news that Jesus died in the place of sinners.  While all of those good deeds are things we should all be striving after in Jesus’ name, God has not chosen to redeem people through acts of kindness or humanitarian aid.  That does not mean that God will not use those things in the process of drawing an unbeliever to himself, but ultimately, a person must believe a specific message (The Gospel) and trust in a specific person (Jesus) in order to be rescued from sin.  Join me, Church, in doing what is most necessary and won’t be done unless Christians do it!

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Too Busy for God?

Look at your calendar and your to-do list for this week.  If you’re like most people in this country, then both are stacked with responsibilities galore.  You’ve got work, meetings, tests, t-ball practice, grocery shopping, chores, church, Bible study, and swing dance lessons (okay, maybe not swing dance lessons).  The point is that we’re busy.  So busy, in fact, that we let these other less important aspects of life invade our personal time with God.  Yes, all that we do should be done for the glory of God, and in that way all of life should be worship to God (1 Cor. 10:31), but if we don’t create some daily time for ourselves wherein our focus is simply to hear from God through his word and speak to him in prayer, then our spiritual lives will become stagnant and bland.  Furthermore, our time with God can often be the time that is left over after we’re finished with all the other responsibilities in our day, and if God just gets our leftovers, then there will be some days when there is nothing leftover because we were just too busy.

At our church, both formally and informally, we try to keep each other accountable for meeting with God in his word on a daily basis.  The reasons I hear most (from others and myself) for why time was not given to God on any given day have to do with being too busy.  Each time I hear this, I am reminded of something my friend Justin Childers (check out his blog: http://justinchilders.blogspot.com/) said once.  In college, he was teaching on Scripture memory at the Baptist Student Ministry one Thursday night and said, “If you are too busy to memorize Scripture, then you are far busier than God ever intended you to be.”  These words have stuck with me over the years and I hope they will stick with you as well.  Whether it’s Scripture memory, Bible study, or prayer, our time with God should be the highest priority in our day!  Instead of planning our time with God around our other responsibilities we should be planning our other responsibilities around our time with God.  And if there’s simply not enough time in the day to do that, then there are things in our day that we need to cut out for our Savior and King.  Church, Jesus is worth us creating an impenetrable block of time that is dedicated to him each day.  Remember, it is the one who delights in God’s word and meditates on it day and night who will be blessed in this life (Psalm 1:2-3).  I’m sure your week is full of good things that are helpful and beneficial, but let us not allow good things to keep us from the best thing!

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If You Just Can’t Wait Until Reformation Day

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The Sermon I Have Referenced Most in Counseling Young Men

In 2002, when I was a junior in college, a faithful brother in Christ handed me a sermon CD that he  burned and all that was written on it were the words, “Men’s Talk – John Piper”.  I have no idea where it was preached or on what occasion.  As far as I can tell, Piper is addressing a group of college men on the struggles of Christian manhood.  With the little information I have, I tried to find it online to no avail.  To date, I have listened to that sermon numerous times and it is the sermon that I reference most when I am counseling young men.  Recently, I found the CD in a box in my closet and I want to make it available to anyone interested.  May it prove just as radically helpful for you as it has been for me!

You can listen or download here: Men’s Talk – John Piper

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